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Beer coming to Wegmans in PA?

March 24, 2008

Philly.com reported today that “Wegmans Food Markets Inc. won regulatory approval to sell beer at six Pennsylvania supermarkets, prompting a beer distributors’ association to ask a court Monday to overturn the decision.” 

Those of you outside of Pennsylvania may not know that this is a big deal.  Currently, in Pennsylvania you can not buy beer in grocery stores.  The article reports:

“Pennsylvania’s liquor laws impose conditions for certain categories of licenses, such as requiring food to be sold on the premises and minimum seating capacities, so, with a few exceptions, supermarkets have not sold beer.  But Wegmans’ supermarkets have cafes that qualify for “restaurant” licenses, allowing beer, wine and hard liquor to be sold for consumption inside the eating establishment, and the equivalent of 12 16-ounce containers of beer for takeout.”

Wegmans’ attorney distinguished between what they are doing and a regular grocery store: “What Wegmans offers is a restaurant that happens to be based in a grocery store…By no means is it a grocery store selling beer.” The plan is for customers to pay for their beer inside the cafe, not at normal checkout lanes with other grocery items.

Wegmans has an application pending before the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for its store in Downingtown.

Additionally, “an appeal by Sheetz Inc. of the rejection of its plan to sell takeout beer only at a convenience store in Altoona is scheduled for oral argument before the state Supreme Court next month. A lower court said such sales were illegal, because the license Sheetz obtained required at least some beer to be sold for on-premises consumption as well.”

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephanie permalink
    March 25, 2008 2:43 pm

    Pennsylvania’s liquor laws are absurd. Having grown up in Georgia and lived in Florida, I was shocked when I couldn’t find the beer aisle during my first trip to a Pennsylvania grocery store (I did find a few 6 packs of non-alcoholic beer). Are Pennsylvanians safer because we can’t buy beer in the grocery store?

  2. sean mcQ permalink
    March 25, 2008 5:48 pm

    Growing up here all my life, I always thought it was normal to only be able to purchase beer via a distributor or take out from a bar. But after venturing out of the state and overseas, I saw how absolutely puritanical that Pennsylvania’s liquor laws are. We too should enjoy the freedom of beer from a gas station or 7-11, like our brethren in Jersey. All of us Pennsylvanians like to make Jersey the butt of our jokes, but hey, at least they can by beer wherever the hell they want to.

  3. quesinart permalink
    March 26, 2008 5:46 pm

    You are not the only ones with antiquated liquor laws. Here in Colorado we can purchase beer from grocery stores 7 days a week (nice since Liquor stores still close on Sunday). However the beer for sale there is all 3.2% alcohol content. Very sneaky as there is no mention in those stores that you are getting water downed beer. It does provide a very easy way to recognize tourists as they are the only ones buying beer from the grocery.

  4. John E. permalink
    March 28, 2008 6:25 pm

    Now this is a cause I would take on pro bono. . .

  5. Michael permalink
    April 3, 2008 6:11 pm

    In response to the comment about New Jersey – actually you can’t buy at a gas station or grocery store there either, unless that establishment has ponied up hundreds of thousands of dollars for a liquor license. NJ is in some ways as bad as PA, and in some ways even worse. They are the two worst states in the country when it come to liquor laws. It’s embarrassing. I don’t know anybody in favor of the laws in either state except the small special interests that stand to lose if the laws change.

  6. pat quinn permalink
    February 23, 2009 11:08 pm

    Can you buy cold beer? That would be my only objection. If you have to go home to drink it that would help with drinking and driving.

  7. Bill permalink
    July 15, 2010 9:41 am

    Growing up here all my life, I always thought it was normal to only be able to purchase beer via a distributor or take out from a bar. But after venturing out of the state and overseas, I saw how absolutely puritanical that Pennsylvania’s liquor laws are. We too should enjoy the freedom of beer from a gas station or 7-11, like our brethren in Jersey. All of us Pennsylvanians like to make Jersey the butt of our jokes, but hey, at least they can by beer wherever the hell they want to.

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